The University of YouTube

YouTube isn’t just about Despacito with its 6,310,123,806 views (as of 11 July 2019) or PewDiePie with his 97 million+ subscribers. For many, YouTube is little more than a deluge of poor-quality videos showing the latest internet craze (remember the ice bucket challenge?) or conspiracy theory, some pranks, music videos and video-bloggers of dubious talent, not forgetting the ubiquitous cat videos. But many underestimate the potential of YouTube as an educational tool. From how-to instructional videos to TED talks, YouTube could well be the most important educational tool of our time. On YouTube, I have a playlist of 42 videos I have named “University of YouTube“, these are a selection of videos I find educational. I have learnt a lot from selectively watching YouTube.

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YouTube Playlist: first six

There are many TED talks on a range of subjects, the one about how Cambridge Analytica tampered with the Brexit vote makes  for interesting and alarming viewing Facebook’s role in Brexit.

One channel called “The School of Life” has bite sized videos about various philosophers, I have never formally studied philosophy but I find these videos very informative, I even blogged about Heidegger and Cemeteries,  after watching the School of Life clip about Heidegger.

“The most interesting communities of learners that are growing up on the internet right now are on YouTube.” John Green

Why Learning is Awesome (John Green)

The YouTube page can resemble a classroom where you can learn almost any subject from physics ,maths, international history or just about anything.

My wife has started decorating bottles, following instructional videos on YouTube.

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Khato’s new hobby

If I am looking for cooking inspiration, I go to YouTube; Laura Vitale, a garrulous Italian-American hosts one of  my favourite cooking channels: Laura in the Kitchen.

With the advent of the internet and YouTube. The access to learning tools is unlimited. In this age of always wanting more there is no reason to have to pay for a course on building a computer or making a solar battery changer, how to cook a French meal or speak a new language. You can travel to a far away land or learn a skill in a few short videos.

There is a vast catalogue of content about almost every subject or topic you can think of. YouTube is the second most viewed site on the Internet after its parent company Google.

Here are a few of my favourite educational YouTube clips:

Humans Need not Apply by CGP Grey, a 15 minute look at how automation will impact our lives and jobs in the very near future.
History of the English Language the first of six videos chronicling the history of the English Language presented by Melvyn Bragg
The Invention of Blue a fascinating VSauce video looking at the colour blue throughout history
A Guide to Lego Stop Motion a video showing how to make stop motion animation films with Lego by Brickfilms

Let me know yours….

Heidegger and Cemeteries

heidegger cemeteries

We have forgotten to notice we’re alive.

We know it in theory, of course, but we aren’t really in touch with the sheer mystery of existence, the mystery of what Heidegger called ‘das Sein’ or ‘Being’.

Martin Heidegger was a 20th Century German philosopher, following a lecture, in 1961, Heidegger was asked how we might recover authenticity, he replied that we should simply aim to spend more time ‘in graveyards’.

I used to have a student who lived near Vake Cemetery and if I arrived early, I would wander about the cemetery, taking photos and reflecting on my own mortality. Georgian graveyards are different to British graveyards, many of the gravestones have photos etched into the stone of the deceased person. Many of the deceased lived for less time than I have.

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She died young

At 53, I am acutely aware that I am nearer death than birth (I won’t live to 107+). Heidegger like Kafka and Murakami highlighted  the uncanny strangeness of everything, wondering why things exist as they do.

For Heidegger, the modern world is an infernal machine dedicated to distracting us from the basic wondrous nature of Being. It overwhelms us with information, it kills silence, it distracts us– partly because realising the mystery of Being has its frightening dimensions. What we’re really running away from is a confrontation with ‘das Nichts’ (The Nothing), which lies on the other side of Being.

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The Nothing is everywhere, it stalks us and it will swallow us up eventually, it’s only when we realise that other people cannot save us from ‘das Nichts’ that we’re likely to stop living for them; to stop worrying so much about what others think.

Two years ago, my mother died, I posted about the experience at the time: Between Funerals. When our parents die, we realise we’ll probably be next. Sometimes I believe in an afterlife, sometimes I think there is just nothing. Wandering around a cemetery, I realise I am alive but at any moment such being may cease.

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Jikia Cemetery

and Camus

In The First Man, Camus writes of visiting a military cemetery, his father died in the First World War.

At that moment he read on the tomb the date of his father’s birth, which he now discovered he had not known. Then he read the two dates, “1885-1914,” and automatically did the arithmetic: twenty-nine years. Suddenly he was struck by an idea that shook his very being. He was forty years old. The man buried under the slab, who had been his father, was younger than he.

This was a strange unnatural thought, he felt the compassion a man feels for an unjustly murdered child and started reflecting on his own mortality.

For he too believed he was living, he alone had created himself, he knew his own strength, his vigor, he could cope and he had himself well in hand. But, in that strange dizziness of the moment, the statue  every man eventually erects and that hardens in the fire of the years, into which he then creeps and then awaits its final crumbling – that statue was rapidly cracking, it was already collapsing.

Albert Camus’ life was cut short on 4 January 1960 at the age of 46 in a car accident near the town of Sens. 144 pages of a handwritten manuscript entitled Le premier Homme (The First Man) were found in the wreckage.

Another thought I should ponder: What will happen to my toys when I die?